Would you like to know how you could get your kids more excited to do things around the kitchen?
Do you want to find more ways to spend quality time together as a family?
In this article we will cover ways to get your kids going on the kitchen side of things.
So let’s get cooking!
In this article I will discuss:
It’s common knowledge that quality time with loved ones improves the quality of life.
It’s good for building relationships, strengthening the bond between family members, learning more about each other and grow as a family.
What better way to spend some time together than preparing a meal or baking some cookies!
Everybody’s got to eat right? You may as well make an event out of it.
The key to this whole endeavour is to start small. And by small I mean with small jobs around the kitchen while your kids are still young.
Children are usually eager to help their parents from a very early age. I will not say they are helping, per se, because they usually end up causing you more work at the end of the day.
But they WANT to help. That’s all that counts.
I am someone that likes to get things done. When I start something, I want to finish it as soon as possible without compromising on the quality of my work. It’s just who I am, my way of thinking and doing things.
Because of this, I tend to easily get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan.
So it was a HUGE mindset change I had to make when our boys started “helping” me.
Things started taking three to four times longer.
Initially I got frustrated.
But then I started realising that although the job itself took longer, I enjoyed spending that time with them.
We grew closer. And all the time they actually learned about things and expanded their interests and knowledge.
Exactly that should be done when working in the kitchen.
There is always something to do there. Get the little ones involved and excited.
And as time goes by and they grow older, that excitement will most likely stick.
Tasks in the kitchen
Because we spend so much time in the kitchen, mundane tasks like putting dirty dishes in the sink don’t even register anymore.
But it is exactly these little tasks younger kids enjoy doing.
Getting that dirty dish into the sink (with a little help, of course) is a huge accomplishment! And it also very important to praise them when they get something done (even if they did need some help).
So when kids are young, get them to help you with these little tasks and you will be surprised how quickly they catch on.
Safety in the kitchen
Safety is an aspect that has to be mentioned here before we go any further. It goes hand in hand with starting young.
Kitchens are, at the end of the day, places filled with hazards.
You have boiling water, open elements in toasters, hot stoves, slippery spills, knives etc.
It is inevitable that kids are going to get exposed to most of these at some stage.
It is then better that they have already been exposed to these in a controlled environment where you were present and where you pointed out exactly what the hazards are.
I recommend reading this article about kids’ safety in the kitchen. Many of these principles are applies if you are busy in the kitchen with them.
Moving on to bigger things
When kids are a bit older you can move on to let them do a bit more.
As with the stage above, there are no set ages for when to teach what. You as parent will know when they are ready.
These can include things like letting them mix ingredients when baking, using measuring spoons (no so much reading the volume on the spoon) and operating the stove knobs (emphasis safety on this over and over).
So basically anything slightly more advanced than the basics.
Plan with them
Another thing to do at this younger stages is to plan ahead and select a dish with them.
Recipe books with heaps of pictures helps in this regard.
Identify which dishes you can make with ingredients on hand, and then go through the pictures of these recipes with them.
Tell them the names, what ingredients they require and point out what prominent features the dish has.
Not only do you get them excited about something you all are going to prepare together, you also teach them new words and phrases.
Planning dishes includes discussing with them which utensils you will be using.
If your kids are like mine, they can’t leave utensils alone. We always pick up utensils everywhere in the house. Especially spatulas, for some or other reason they absolutely love those things!
During any discussions with your kids, it’s a good idea to emphasise how healthy the different ingredients are.
Always keep it interactive and ask them what they know already. Do they know what it is? Do they know where those ingredients come from?
This way you invite them to be involved.
Let them feel appreciated when they give input. This will build confidence.
Let them help you cook
When your kids are a bit older you should let them take charge of certain cooking tasks.
Many recipes are comprised of more than one element. Some dishes, for example, require certain sauces. Identify which are the easier parts to make and assign them to your kids.
You as parent will know best which tasks you could safely assign to them. Always, though, keep a VERY close eye on them. Never leave them alone in the kitchen while they are busy with something.
The way forward
As time goes on, your kids will become more and more proficient.
They will be able to handle more complex tasks including cooking more basic meals on their own.
This is when you can give them a certain day of the week where they are responsible for the meal. Dinner is best.
They can then plan something on their own and prepare it on their own (obviously under supervision). You can give guidance from the sidelines and make sure the necessary ingredients are available.
And before you know it you will have little chefs running your kitchen!
As with anything you want to get your kids involved in, easing them into it is key.
Take your time.
Let their enthusiasm guide you on how fast you should go.
To learn to love and enjoy something usually takes some time, especially cooking. There are exceptions, of course.
And when your kids are older they will be more than just proficient in cooking.
And with ease they would be able to dish up something nutritious themselves should the need arise.